Batgirl has steadily gained more momentum as we see how Barbara Gordon is creating her own unique corner of the DC Universe. Hope Larson has so far made Batgirl a fun comic book to pick up each and every month. Now things look to be even more interesting in the world of Batgirl as the recently single Nightwing is swinging over to Gotham City for a visit. How will this latest meeting between Batgirl and Nightwing go down? Let’s find out with Batgirl #14.
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colorist: Mat Lopes
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While out on stakeout Batgirl gets a weird message.Before she can figure out where it came from Nightwing shows up, who got the same text.
Before they can figure out who it is from a pair dressed in similar costumes attack them. Batgirl and Nightwing easily take down the pair and ask them what they are doing. The pair blame Batgirl and Nightwing for the mischief going on in Gotham City. They then jump off the building.
Later that night as the paramedics wheel the women’s bodies away Nightwing comments how they looked like Ainsley. As they talk Batgirl and Nightwing realize Mad Hatter may be involved.
Flashing back to when Barbara first moved to Gotham City, she deals with being bullied by other students since she is the new girl in school. Barbara meets Ainsley who turns out to be her new Computer Science teacher. In class Barbara shows Ainsley one of her personal projects which impresses Ainsley.
Later that day Batgirl is eating on the roof as she tries to figure out how she can fit in class. Robin shows up and let’s Batgirl know he is investigating the cheerleaders, who have had several members have psychotic breaks recently.
Robin mentions how he knows Batgirl is from Chicago and knows about her history. Batgirl calls Robin a jerk for how he explains her past to her and leaves the area.
In the present Batgirl and Nightwing fight Mad Hatter’s minions. Batgirl gets the wind knocked out of her. When Nightwing checks up on her Batgirl saves Nightwing from being attacked from behind.
As they tie Mad Hatter’s minions up Nightwing reveals he recently broke up with his girlfriend.
Porkpie wakes up and Nightwing asks him if he knows the twins they fought earlier. Porkpie says nothing but one of the other guys speaks up and tells Batgirl and Nightwing to check his files.
Batgirl looks at Mad Hatter’s computer and finds information on two girls who recently died due to Mad Hatter’s experiments. Batgirl digs deeper and finds out Mad Hatter is actually in the hospital.
Flashing back to the past, Barbara gets a job at The Chive Garden. There she finds out Ainsley is also a server. While training Barbara, Ainsley reveals that she works as a server so she can work on her side projects and doesn’t like the big corporate environment.
After work is over Ainsley invites Barbara to work with her on her projects. Barbara happily accepts the offer.
Barbara gets home and is yelled at by her dad for not checking in with him. Jim and Barbara get into a fight about his over protectiveness. Jim sends Barbara to her room.
Frustrated, Barbara puts on her Batgirl costume and leaves the apartment.
Batgirl runs into Robin, who quickly apologizes for how he acted like a big jerk earlier. Robin says he understand parent troubles as he is an orphan, much to Batgirl’s surprise, and Batman hasn’t been the best “dad.” Robin then invites Batgirl to join in on his investigation, which Batgirl happily agrees to do.
In the present Batgirl and Nightwing visit a heavily injured Mad Hatter at Gotham General Hospital. Nightwing wonders if Ainsley is responsible for what is going on though Batgirl isn’t sure.
Mad Hatter wakes up screaming “RED” in terror. Mad Hatter freaks out and tells Batgirl that the Red Queen is coming after him.
Elsewhere the Red Queen watches Batgirl and Nightwing meeting with Mad Hatter. Red Queen is happy to see Batgirl playing right into her hands. End of issue.
The Good: There is a certain spark whenever we get a comic book with Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson together. That spark is exactly what Hope Larson and Chris Wildgoose tap into as they treat us to an enjoyable comic book in Batgirl #14.
Something we have not seen used very often in this new DC Universe is deep dives into iconic characters past. It’s especially surprising with the Batman Family since their history has been the most truncated into a five year span. Seeing Larson use that untapped potential of the early days of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon as Robin and Batgirl, respectively, was a nice touch to give added depth to the present day story in Batgirl #14.
Throughout Batgirl #14 Larson gives a lot of respect to how Barbara and Dick interacted with each other early on in their careers. This helped frame how far these two come in their relationship as friends, and sometimes more than that. By using one of the first adventures as Batgirl and Robin, Larson is able to show how much these two have in common in terms of home life growing up.
At the same time, Larson has plenty of fun with the flashbacks and showing the awkwardness that comes with these two being teen superheroes. The early misunderstanding as Batgirl is quick to call Robin out for his sarcastic jokester personality was a nice light hearted moment. It also went to show how in his early days as Robin, Dick was not the best at making new friends like he is in the present. Similarly, it showed how as Batgirl, Barbara had a chip on her shoulder as an outsider in the early days of the Batman Family.
The flashback scenes also help with making this new storyline feel personal for Batgirl. In delving into Batgirl’s past we get to see how this new Red Queen threat is tied to her. It continues Larson’s trend in creating new villains that are made to expand on Batgirl’s own rogues gallery. These flashback scenes help create a mystery as to what exactly is going on and Ainsley is tied into this. Given Batgirl’s reaction to when Nightwing mentioned Ainsley’s name it’s clear that there is a lot to this new character’s past that will be revealed as the story moves forward.
With the Mad Hatter involved Larson gave the mysterious Red Queen an anchor point. This at least gives us a good idea of what Red Queen’s plot will look like as she plays the mental game against Batgirl. The question is if the Red Queen is tied deeper into Batgirl’s past than we know or if there is something else that makes her go after our hero.
For the most part, Chris Wildgoose added to the fun of Larson’s story with his solid artwork. Along with Jose Marzan and Mat Lopes, created a colorful palette that made the actions of Batgirl and Nightwing stand out more. Wildgoose art helped the Larson’s dialogue moving at a steady pace as we went through a lot of set-up for the future issues of this arc.
The Bad: The one criticism I have for the Wildgoose art is how he drew Nightwing. From how he designed Nightwing with slender frame and odd way of standing . This is especially the case in the early scenes with Nightwing. It was a bit jarring given that in all his other appearances, we see Nightwing a bit bulkier as his frame is usually closer to Batman than slender way he looked here.
Overall: Hope Larson taps into the spark between Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson to treat fans to a fun Batgirl #14. This is a story that will be a great treat for fans of the Batgirl/Nightwing pairing. Using the Batgirl and Nightwing’s early history with one another added depth to this story that involves characters related to one of their first adventures together without Batman. If you are a fan of Batgirl, Nightwing or both then Batgirl #14 is definitely worth picking up.